Jerry Sandusky has finally been sentenced for his crimes of child sex abuse. He received 30 to 60 years in prison, and given that Sandusky is 68 years old, this sentencing guarantees that he will most likely spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Although the fact that a monster like him will rot in jail until his death indicates that justice was served, there is something about this scenario that doesn't sit well with me.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It's a label that has taken me many years to accept, and there have been numerous bumps along the way. There were years of guilt, shame, denial, self-induced punishment and unhappiness as a result of that abuse. All these feelings stemmed from my inability to process what had happened. It wasn't until I sought out therapy at the age of 37 that I embarked on my journey of healing. The result was a coming to terms with the fact that there had been circumstances that were beyond my control, and ultimately having peace of mind. However, even though I am proud to say that I achieved happiness, the thought of child molestation always stirs up strong emotions within me. Many years have passed since my own traumatic episodes, but I found it difficult to watch and read the news stories about Sandusky as the allegations unfolded and the case went to trial. As the victims came forward, I identified with each and every one of them. Because of my own background, I knew the pain and sadness that they were experiencing. It's a terrible way to be connected to another person, but abuse survivors share a relatable bond.
Although I did my best to stay aware and informed during the trial without becoming too emotionally worked up, the sentencing has me in a bit of shock. Sandusky's inability to accept accountability for his monstrous actions is unbelievable but familiar at the same time. This man pretended to be these boys' mentor, someone who had their best interests at heart. He then went on to become a predator. Yet even after listening to painful testimonies about the acts he committed, he maintains his innocence. His legal team blames the verdict on a lack of time to prepare a proper defense, while Sandusky himself throws around conspiracy theories and labels his accusers "liars." Seeing a grown man defile a boy and then go on to pretend that he did nothing wrong is perhaps the ultimate slap in the face. It's the equivalent of beating someone to the ground and then spitting on him as he lies helpless. Sandusky's victims deserve to hear this man confess to his wrongdoings, and they deserve to receive an apology. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that either one of these things will happen.
Throughout the course of the trial, 10 victims testified, but the harsh reality is that there could be more. I know that for many years I was afraid to admit the truth to others, as well as to myself. Instead, I opted to keep secrets about the abuse and all the dark places I ventured to as a result of being in denial. I've walked several miles in those shoes, and that helps me understand that it's plausible that there are men who might be ashamed of coming forward, afraid to rehash the heartache that one man has inflicted on them. I don't believe we'll ever really know just how many boys Sandusky preyed upon, but I applaud the bravery of those 10 men who did come forward.
I was fortunate to get the help I needed to come to terms with the abuse I endured as a child. I went on to find an empowered voice through writing, which proved to be just as therapeutic as my counseling sessions, and I was able to close the book on those unhappy years by penning a memoir. Most adults who have been sexually abused as children are haunted by those demons for a lifetime. It's hard to have inner peace after suffering through that kind of pain. I was definitely on that path at one point; I'm grateful to have beaten the odds. I wish the same for Sandusky's victims, because he robbed these men in the worst possible way. He pretended to care, and in the process he stole all the childlike qualities that these boys possessed. There is no amount of jail time that Sandusky will serve that can heal their souls. Sadly, once innocence and trust are gone, there are no actions that can be done to bring them back to their previous state.